In 1916, Congress established the National Park Service (NPS). The NPS Organic Act, codified in Title 16, United States Code (USC) Chapter I, established the National Park Service's mission, which remains in place to this day:
[T]o conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.
Federal funding for roads, trails, and bridges in the national park system began in 1924. In January 1925, the first interagency agreement between the NPS and the Bureau of Public Roads—the predecessor of today's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)—was struck. Under the agreement, the Bureau of Public Roads was to provide road design and construction assistance. This relationship continues today, making it the longest-running formal partnership between any two federal agencies.
This partnership is now called the Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP). The FLTP improves multi-modal access within national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facilities. The Federal Lands Highway Office (FLH) provides financial management, engineering, and construction management support for the FLTP.
FLTP MISSION: The mission of the Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP) is to preserve and protect resources, while providing safe and enjoyable access to and within the national parks, using sustainable, appropriate, and integrated transportation solutions.
The NPS has developed three broad goals to address this mission:
• Provide and maintain high quality transportation infrastructure and services;
• Deliver safe, efficient, effective, and environmentally-friendly transportation infrastructure projects and services; and
• Serve as a leader and innovator in transportation, as well as in cooperating with local, regional, state, Federal and industry partners.
The Federal Lands Highway Program (FLHP) was established by federal legislation in 1982. Funding for the Federal Lands Highway Program began in fiscal year (FY) 1983. The current interagency agreement addressing roles and responsibilities between the two agencies was signed on May 19, 1983.
Funds are allocated to the FLHP on an annual basis from the Federal Highway Trust Fund (Trust Fund), which is supported by the federal motor vehicle gas tax and certain excise taxes. The funds may only be used on roads and transportation facilities open to the public (as opposed to administrative and residential roads), and funds may not be used for routine maintenance activities, such as snow plowing, patching pavement, and re-striping roads.
The FLTP and the FLHP maintain and improve the quality and condition of some 9,600 miles of public roads (paved and unpaved) and 1,505 bridges and tunnels in national park system units. Since 1999, alternative transportation projects, such as transit services, also have been supported with FLTP funds.
In 2006 Congress approved a new program for transit, trails, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities. This was the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Program (TRIP), established to address the challenge of increasing vehicle congestion in and around national parks and other federal lands. The Transit In Parks program was repealed by Congress under MAP-21. Alternative transportation projects former eligible under TRIP are now eligible under the Federal Lands Transportation Program and the Federal Lands Access Program.